Political contract killing?

Piotr Andrusieczko

On 23rd March, in the center of Kiev, Denis Voronenkov – the former deputy of the State Duma, was gunned down and his bodyguard was injured. The assassin died in hospital due to severe wounds. Ukrainian authorities accused Russia of ordering a hitman.

The video published on 24th March shows that the assassin approached Voronenkov and gave first shots. The deputy’s bodyguard tried to knock the gun out of the murderer’s hand with a bag but he got shot and fell down. The assassin came to Voronenkov and killed him with another shots. At the same time, he got injured by the bodyguard.

All this happened in the center of Kiev, in front of the Premier Palace hotel – the favourite place for meetings of businessmen and politicians – and took place for several seconds. Voronenkov was heading to the hotel. Ilya Ponomarev, also a deputy of the State Duma, wrote that Voronenkov was in hurry to meet him and pass some important information.

Democracy, machination and “Our Crimea!”

Denis Voronenkov appeared in Ukraine at the end of 2016. However, it was not until February 2017 when the media informed that Voronenkov got the Ukrainian citizenship in December 2016 what is purported to be the decision of the president Petro Poroshenko. From the beginning, it was causing doubts what was the reason for such a quick process of obtaining the Ukrainian citizenship by a Russian politician. The general prosecutor, Yuriy Lutsenko, declared that Voronenkov obtained the citizenship automatically, because of his close relatives who live in Ukraine.

Earlier, in 2011, he became a member of the State Duma where he represented the Communist Party of the Russian Federation. In the media, he claimed that he had financed his campaign on his own and at that time, he still believed in Russian democracy what was proven by demonstrations on the Bolotnaya Square in Moscow.

His faith in democracy in Russia ended in 2016 when he tried to get to the Russian parliament again but – according to him – the authorities distorted the results.

According to the Russian newspaper “Novaya Gazeta”, Voronenkov committed fraud during his pre-election campaign in 2011.
As he ended his political career, the former deputy moved with his wife and a child to Kiev. It is interesting that his wife, Maria Maksakova, besides being an opera singer, was a deputy to the State Duma from the party United Russia.

In a journalistic investigation published in February by “Novaya Gazeta”, it was written that Voronenkov was said to help in closing criminal cases for money and to take part in illegal takeover of real estates in the center of Moscow.

According to the Russian newspaper, Voronenkov was a typical Russian politician – having a modest remuneration, he was disposing of large assets including companies registered in “tax havens”. It is also said that his escape to Ukraine was related to the investigation against him.

In Ukraine, he was accused of voting for annexation of Crimea to Russia. He stated he was absent at that time and somebody used his voting card.

Officially, for Ukrainian authorities, Voronenkov was an important witness in an investigation concerning treason against the state by Viktor Yanukovych. The former Russian deputy gave testimonies on this case at the General Prosecutor’s Office in February.

Who was shooting?

The assassin was a 28-year-old Pavel Parshov born in Sevastopol. This was said by Anton Gerashchenko, a deputy of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine and an adviser to Ukraine’s interior minister, Arsen Avakov.

According to Gerashchenko, it was a Russian agent. However, the presented biography raised many questions. The murderer was a representative of a small business and was pursued in 2011 for economic crimes.

It is not know if he was convicted for that but it is known that he had not gone abroad for 26 years and it was so until February 2015 when he went to Belarus. Then, it is said he was subject to a special training in a school for saboteurs. How Gerashchenko got this information only two days after assassination and why it was not available for Ukrainian services – it is not known.

It is puzzling that Parshov was accepted to the National Guard in June 2015 what means that the Russian training was short. In August 2016, he got demobilized and, according to Ukrainian investigators, he was a sleeper agent who was waiting for a sign from Russia.
Regardless of some doubts related to the assassin’s biography, Ukrainian investigators and experts accepted the version assuming contract killing ordered by Russia as the most possible one.

On Saturday, 25th March 2017, in Kiev, Voronenkov’s funeral took place. Several dozens of people took part in it. What is interesting, besides the victim’s wife and Ilya Ponomarev, also Anton Gerashchenko was present at the funeral ceremony. In his speech, Ponomarev promised that Voronenkov would be avenged.

It is not known if the investigation will answer all the questions and if it will indicate a motive of the people who ordered the murder. Voronenkov’s death may be deterring for other political refugees from Russia since Kiev is no longer considered a safe place for escape. Since 2014, Russian politicians, activists and journalists have chosen Ukraine as a shelter.

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